Healthy Lifestyle: Commission launches a European-wide campaign

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Yesterday, the Commission launched the HealthyLifestyle4All campaign to promote a healthy lifestyle for all, across generations and social groups, with the objective to improve the health and well-being of Europeans. Linking sport and active lifestyles with health, food and other policies, this two-year campaign involves civil society, non-governmental organisations, national, local and regional authorities and international bodies. All involved will implement several actions for Europeans to be more active and more mindful of their health.

The actions will support the three objectives of the HealthyLifestyle4All campaign:

  • Raise more awareness for healthy lifestyles across all generations;
  • Support an easier access to sport, physical activity and healthy diets, with a special focus on inclusion and non-discrimination to reach and involve disadvantaged groups;
  • Promote a global approach across policies and sectors, linking food, health, well-being and sport.

All participating organisations can submit a commitment for concrete actions in the online Pledge Board. Several EU countries and organisations, such as the International and European Olympic Committees, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International School Sport Federation, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), and the World Health Organization (WHO) already submitted their contribution, with many more to be expected.

As a coordinator of the campaign, the Commission will implement several actions in the next two years, including for example:

  • Increase funding for projects supporting a healthy lifestyle in the Erasmus+, Horizon Europe and EU4Health For 2021-2027, €470 million will be available for sport actions under Erasmus+, €290 million under Horizon Europe, and €4.4 million under EU4Health;
  • Create a new #BeActive Across Generations Award to recognise the importance of Sport across different ages;
  • Launch an EU Mobile App for cancer prevention to raise awareness of the importance of healthy lifestyles for cancer prevention, supporting the goals of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan;
  • Develop and update a food ingredients database containing information on the nutritional quality of processed food products sold in the EU to promote healthier food products and reduce the consumption of less healthy food products high in sugar, fat and salt. A harmonised mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling will further support that objective as well as the EU Code of Conduct on responsible food business and marketing practices that entered in force in July 2021;
  • Address the issue of healthy and sustainable diets, and the importance of physical activity and mental health in schools. The Commission will review the EU School fruit, vegetables and milk scheme and will streamline the concept of healthy lifestyles in its recommendation on education;
  • Support evidence-based policy making for healthy lifestyles with the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Knowledge Gateway and the Knowledge Centre on Cancer.

The launch of the campaign coincides with the start of the European Week of Sport 2021, which takes place from 23 to 30 September across Europe under the patronage of three great European athletes: Beatrice Vio, Jorge Pina and Sergey Bubka. Thousands of events, online and in situ, will highlight the power of physical activity to bring joy, build resilience and connect generations. Since its first edition in 2015, the European Week of Sport has become the largest European campaign for promoting sport and physical activity. The 2020 European Week of Sport (EWoS) saw a record participation of 15.6 million active participants in over 32,000 events across Europe.

Members of the College said:

Vice-President for Promoting the European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “Sport and physical activity contribute to our physical and mental wellbeing. The lack of physical activity not only has a negative impact on society and people’s health, but also results in economic costs. In addition, sport has the potential to strengthen messages of tolerance and reinforce citizenship throughout Europe. Today’s HealthyLifestyle4All campaign is a testimony of the Commission’s implication for a healthy lifestyle for every citizen.

Launching the campaign alongside the European Week of Sport in Slovenia yesterday, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said: “People’s awareness about the role of sport and fitness for a healthy lifestyle has only grown over the years, not least because of the pandemic. We have to keep the momentum. The European Commission will continue to work to raise the awareness about the key role sport plays for our societies; for people’s health, social inclusion and well-being. The HealthyLifestyle4All initiative invites key sectors promoting sport, physical activity and healthy diets to join the Commission in promoting action that can improve our healthy habits.”

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: ”Good health is the bedrock for strong societies and strong economies. And prevention will always be better than cure. This is why health promotion and disease prevention is a crucial component for our work on health, and a major focus of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. The HealthyLifestyles4All initiative will help us shine a spotlight on the importance of healthy lifestyles across all generations and social groups. It will raise awareness about the importance of healthy lifestyles, support a shift towards more sustainable diets and promote responsible food business and marketing practices.”

Background

According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, nearly half of Europeans never exercise or play sport, and the proportion has increased gradually in recent years. Only 1 in 7 persons aged 15 or over eats at least five portions of fruit or vegetables daily, while 1 in 3 does not eat any fruit or vegetables every day. Healthy lifestyles contribute to reduce the incidence of a number of non-communicable diseases. For example, it is an established fact that over 40% of cancers are preventable and unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles are important determinants. Effective cancer prevention strategies can prevent illness, save lives, and reduce suffering. Europe’s Beating Cancer plan is committed to giving people the information and tools they need to make healthier choices when it comes to diet and exercise.

Sport is recognised for boosting the immune system, helping improve mental health and teaching us important values of inclusion and participation. At EU level, the Commission supports the promotion of physical activity through financial support via Erasmus+, Horizon Europe and EU4Health. Since 2014, Erasmus+ has financed 1175 projects and reached 3700 organisations for a value of €250 million. The Commission also created the #BeActive awards to support projects and individuals that are dedicated to promoting sport and physical activity across Europe.

The Commission supports the Member States and stakeholders in promoting healthy diets through a number of actions, such as food reformulation, reducing aggressive (digital) marketing of foods high in fat, salt and sugars, public procurement of school food, promotion of physical activity and consumer information, including labelling. An overview of the policy initiatives on nutrition and physical activity shows that it can contribute to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. The Farm to Fork Strategy aims to accelerate our transition to a sustainable food system where everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious, sustainable food.

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